Quick reminder: If you've been missing the dealflow notices that used to appear on this column, they've moved over to Twitter so they can be timelier (and a lot less work).
Anyways, many thanks to all the readers who participated in this year's CI Reader Prediction Survey. We got lots of good responses, and there's a lot of agreement out there about the coming year, surprisingly to me.
In terms of survey participants, it appears to have been a good mix of entrepreneurs, investors, corporate managers, and service providers, with a smattering of researchers, government/NGO types, and others thrown in. Lots of entrepreneurs and investors. Geographically, more than 80% of participating readers are in North America, but Europe, Asia and the Middle East also had a presence (I'm very, very disappointed in you, Australia).
So what do readers predict?
1. In terms of North American cleantech venture deals, Q1 through Q3 2010, readers expect it to be a moderately good year. Two-thirds of readers expect that the number of venture deals will grow, but by less than 50%, compared to 2009's same period. Over 25% expect the number of deals to remain about the same. Less than 5% thought the number of deals would drop, and less than 5% thought the growth would be more than 50%.
2. In North American cleantech venture dollars, same period, it was about the same picture. 7% thought the dollars would actually drop, 24% thought they would be about the same, 62% thought they would grow but by less than 50% year on year, and 7% thought they would grow by more than 50%.
3. There was a bit of a more bullish take on global clean energy private equity (which is mostly in project finance). 4% thought the global dollars going into these projects would fall, 21% thought they would be about the same, 49% thought they would grow but by less than a third. And interestingly, more than a quarter of readers thought they would grow by more than that.
4. I asked that, if 2008 was the "year of solar" and 2009 was the "year of the car" in cleantech, what would 2010 be known as? Readers pointed to a lot of favorites, but by far the top two vote earners were a) Green buildings and building energy efficiency; and b) Smart grid. Both got votes from more than 40% of participating readers. People are really down on solar -- it only beat out wave power and agriculture, with votes from 3% of participating readers.
5. Readers showed a bit more optimism in terms of U.S. cap and trade legislation getting passed than I'm feeling at the moment. Asked whether we would see enactment of "meaningful" (purposefully vague phrasing, btw) climate change legislation in 2010, 40% of participating readers said yes! Of course, that means 60% said no...
Here are some of the tips and thoughts readers wanted to share with other readers:
"Stay the course, markets will rebound and investors will start investing again."
"Come to Europe"
"Why haven't we initiated intense policies mandating a reduction in emissions? Adapt or fall to ruin. Businesses have to learn."
"The US gov't continues to derail real momentum in the renewable space. $3.8B to GMAC? Let 'em die and put that money into all of the above; repurpose the workers into something that matters. No action at Copenhagen? Disgraceful."
"Solyndra and possibly Codexis IPOs are likely to be canaries in the coal mine - but tough to see how the canaries make it out alive..."
"I have been and continue to be amazed by the lack of "energy awareness" on the part of normally intelligent Americans. This is a fundamental problem and HAS TO change."
"A more diverse range of investor funds is needed in cleantech (as opposed to one-size fits all structures); as soon as we see an inflow of money we'll see innovations in investment strategies. I think 2010 will see meaningful evolution towards investment vehicles that better match cleantech investment opportunities."
"Investors will lick their wounds from 2008-9 biofuel and solar investment catastrophes, but continue doing deals in cleantech. My magic 8 ball is telling me that entrepreneurs will respond to the challenging investment environment by focusing on building more capital efficient cleantech businesses. I like the software enabled efficiency businesses (green computing, building monitoring & controls, logistics, and industrial logistics sectors) and capital efficient execution companies that wrap up (near) market-ready technologies in new and exciting business models (building and lighting efficiency, transportation, and finance models of these plays)."
And my personal favorite: "Pyrolysis will explode!" Not literally, I hope...
We'll check back in at the end of 2010, one way or another, and see how everyone did. Thanks to all who participated!